A portrait of Peter Wagner.
Peter Wagner
Executive Director
I need your help. For 14 years, the Prison Policy Initiative has been at the forefront of the movement to keep the prison system from exerting undue influence on our electoral process. Our work has changed how our democracy works in 4 states and hundreds of local governments. We've even won at the Supreme Court, but our long-term viability depends on people like you investing in our work.

Can you stand up for democracy by joining our small network of donors today? You can make a one-time gift, or become a monthly donor. Gifts recieved in 2015 will be automatically matched by other donors.

I thank you for investing in our work for a more just tomorrow.
—Peter Wagner
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Is prison gerrymandering new to you?

Welcome! We wrote our introduction to the site and its contents just for you.

Progress towards ending prison gerrymandering

map showing state and local government that are taking action to end prison-based gerrymandering

Looking at the 2000 Census, the founders of the Prison Policy Initiative discovered that the sheer size of the prison population was combining with an outdated Census Bureau rule to seriously distort how political decisions are made in this country. In a series of reports, we put numbers on the problem of prison-based gerrymandering, suggested solutions, and sparked a national movement.

Since then, we’ve made tremendous progress towards ending prison gerrymandering:

Washington Post op-ed

Prison gerrymandering dilutes your vote

“There are many ways to hijack political power. One of them is to draw state or city legislative districts around large prisons — and pretend that the inmates are legitimate constituents.”Brent Staples

The clearest example of prison gerrymandering comes from the City of Anamosa, Iowa where a large prison was almost an entire city council district. Council districts are supposed to contain the same number of people, but basing districts on non-voting non-resident prison populations gives a handful of residents the same political power as thousands of residents elsewhere in the city.

Don’t miss some of our reports:

50 State Guide to Fixing Prison-Based Gerrymandering

report coverby Peter Wagner, Aleks Kajstura, Elena Lavarreda, Christian de Ocejo, and Sheila Vennell O'Rourke
  Preventing prison-based gerrymandering in redistricting: What to watch for
report cover thumbnail
by Peter Wagner (Prison Policy Initiative) and Brenda Wright (Dēmos)
En Español

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